Ballad Health shares first-hand COVID-19 experiences on Veterans Day

Published 4:46 pm Wednesday, November 11, 2020

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Ballad Health team members shared first-hand impacts of COVID-19 during the organization’s weekly media briefing on Wednesday.
The first team member to speak was Claire Marr, who shared how the virus affected her family. 
Marr’s grandmother was a veteran who served in World War II. She also earned a college degree and had a career in the days when it was not as common for women to do so. 
 Tragically, Marr’s grandmother lost her life to COVID-19.
“We didn’t get to say our last goodbyes. We didn’t get to have a funeral,” said Marr. “Do not dismiss this virus and do not dismiss these deaths. These are more than comorbidities, statistics and high risk; these are family members.”
Marr discussed people doing their part and serving this country. 
“Remember my grandmother and her bravery to serve our country in World War II. She did her part,” said Marr. “Are you doing yours to stay home, wear a mask and social distance?”
The next team member to speak was John Betts, who served as an administrator at Bristol Regional Medical Center and is a Hospital Corpsman Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy. Betts recently received a Humanitarian Service Medal for his COVID-19 response, as well as a Navy and U.S. Marine Corps Commendation Medal. 
“Last month I returned home from a 6-month deployment as a part of a national response team deployed to NYC in the fight against COVID-19,” he said. “We deployed to a city so consumed, it was required to set up medical facilities outside of normal hospital operations.”
Betts said he believes the level of masking compliance, social distancing and hand washing they had is what kept them healthy and safe during deployment. 
“Although our population density is not the same as NYC, if our community does not work together, we could face the need for outside reinforcements,” Betts said. “My time deployed taught me not to fear but to respect the disease. I do what I have to do to protect myself, fellow sailors and patients.” 
Due to the rise in cases, including that from Halloween, Jamie Swift, Chief Infection Prevention Officer, urged people to consider their holiday plans. Swift also revealed the latest case numbers as of Wednesday, which included 217 in patients, 39 of which are in the ICU and 23 are on ventilators. 
Dr. Clay Runnels, Chief Physician Executive, spoke on the nursing shortage. Ballad Health is currently looking to hire 350 nurses. Additionally, Runnels said that while Ballad Health is excited for an approaching vaccine, now is not the time to let up on slowing the spread of the virus with recommended guidelines.
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